Unfortunately, dev.to does not [yet?] provide an ability to cite/refer to another resource, so I took the responsibility of copy-pasting this brilliant email originally sent to LKML here.
This is a must-read for everyone who thinks that Code of Conduct protects people and makes them happier. That is not always the case, and here is why.
From Edward Cree
Subject Re: Code of Conduct: Let's revamp it.
Date Wed, 19 Sep 2018 07:00:26 +0100
The new Code of Conduct makes me feel threatened and uncomfortable.
No, really. As a person with (diagnosed) Asperger's, I'm a member of,
objectively, a marginalised minority. Effectively (i.e. this is a massive
oversimplification), I was born without the hard-wired circuitry for social
interactions that is normally a part of the human brain; consequently I have
to run a slow and inaccurate software simulation when interacting with
In nearly all the communities I participate in, this is a constantly limiting
factor for me. But there is one world that is blessedly free of such things:
the world of open-source software. It is one of the last places where my
particular neurodiversity does not mark me out as Other, does not force
me to carefully watch what I say and present a falsely constructed façade in
place of my real identity. For here, we care not for 'feelings'; either the
code is good or it is bad, and in the latter case we say so directly and
bluntly. Not only does this mean that I don't have to guard my tongue when
critiquing someone else's patch, far more importantly it means I can
understand what's being said when my patches are criticised.
of my best ideas and patches have been born out of someone telling me I'm
The Linux kernel community is a place without office politics, without subtle
subtexts, without primate dominance dynamics. A place where criticism can
be gracefully accepted without having to worry that admitting to being
wrong will lower one's status. A place where I, and people like me, can feel
at home, and maybe even create something of value.
And the Contributor Covenant looks very much like the camel's nose of an
attempt to take that place, that community, away from me. To replace it with
an Orwellian nightmare where I must forever second-guess what is safe to say.
(First they came for "master/slave replication", and I did not speak up
because I was not a DBA.)
I cannot speak for my employer (hence why I am posting this from my personal
address), but to the extent that my rôle as a contributor to the networking
subsystem, and as co-maintainer of the sfc driver, gives me any standing in a
personal capacity, I absolutely cannot sign up to this 'Pledge' nor accept
the 'Responsibilities' to police the speech of others that it makes a duty of
maintainership, and I urge the project leadership to revert its adoption.
Some elements of the Code are unobjectionable; sexual advances, for instance,
have no place on the lkml (though they may at, say, a conference, and not
everyone can reliably predict whether they are unwelcome), and the ability of
kernel developers to accept constructive criticism is one of the strengths
that has made Linux what it is. But far too many of its provisions rely on
ill-defined terms, and thus give those charged with interpreting those terms
the power to destroy livelihoods. By placing a corporate body (the LF) in
the position of arbiter, an avenue is opened for commercial pressure to be
applied; and the legalistic phrasing of the Code practically invites rules-
lawyering whereby the most abusive may twist it into a weapon to further
If the Code were reduced to something more like the old Code of Conflict,
reminding people to 'be liberal in what they accept and conservative in what
they emit', and clarifying that patch submissions should be judged by the
code and not by any characteristics or beliefs of the submitter (I don't
think the enumerated list of protected classes is helpful, as a legalistic
abuser can always slip into a crack between them), I think the sting would be
drawn. Probably the CoConflict would make a better base from which to draft
such a document.
(A note for the irony-challenged: where I use Progressive terms-of-art, such
as 'marginalised', 'Other' and 'identity', in the above, I am endeavouring to
show that this alleged push for 'inclusiveness' fails on its own terms; I am
not accepting the theory behind those terms nor suggesting that, in
reality, the kernel community owes me any special treatment on account of my